In a recent article, you listed your top 10 prospective Hall of Famers under 30. Perhaps the most talked about player not in the NHL has been Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins top draft pick the year before Crosby and the guy selected directly after Ovechkin. Your list included Ovechkin and Crosby. Is Malkin a future franchise cornerstone like the above mentioned or is he a tier below those guys?
From what my eyes have seen, Malkin will be the run-away winner of the Calder Trophy when he enters the NHL. Until someone actually plays in the NHL, there is always uncertainty. However, Malkin has a Mats Sundin game. He is big. He can skate. He can shoot. He can create. He has a bit of nastiness. With Crosby and Malkin, the Penguins are obviously set at center. This year's draft is heavy with centers. Erik Johnson, an 18-year-old defenseman, is tempting to take, but teenage players can sometimes take a long time to develop. The Penguins are primed to trade down, perhaps using the possible first pick as a way to unload Sergei Gonchar's salary if that is in their plans. If someone wants Jordan Staal or Jonathan Toews or Johnson bad enough, it will cost multiple draft picks and a player.
What would I do? I would take Phil Kessel and make him a wing. He can skate and shoot. Crosby or Malkin will get him the puck and Kessel will score. His status has dropped a bit after an indifferent world juniors, where he showed a lack of puck movement and playmaking. Well, the Penguins have the best young playmaker in the game and will be among the NHL's elite very soon. They need finishers. Kessel is immature and needs to train, practice and act with more humility and hunger. But he most likely will be an NHL finisher, and if he plays with Crosby, he can be an instant 30-40-goal guy.